B-216384, DEC 4, 1984

B-216384: Dec 4, 1984

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GAO GENERALLY WILL REVIEW GRANT COMPLAINTS UNLESS THE FEDERAL FUNDS IN THE PROJECT AS A WHOLE ARE INSIGNIFICANT. FEDERAL GRANT COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED WHEN THE ISSUE IN THE COMPLAINT IS PENDING BEFORE A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION UNLESS THE COURT EXPRESSES AND INTEREST IN OBTAINING THE VIEWS OF GAO. ASSERTIONS WHICH ARE OF A CRIMINAL NATURE SHOULD BE REFERRED BY PROTESTER TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. PRITCHETT ALLEGES THAT ACC WAS THE APPARENT LOW BIDDER UNDER A PROCUREMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF A VEGETABLE PACKINGHOUSE IN GUANICA. THE AWARD WAS MADE AT A HIGHER PRICE TO INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANTS. PRITCHETT ALLEGES HE HAS BEEN FRAUDULENTLY DEPRIVED OF THIS CONTRACT AND FURTHER ALLEGES THAT A UNITED STATES AGENCY IS FURNISHING THE $1.5 MILLION FUNDING FOR THIS PROJECT.

B-216384, DEC 4, 1984

CONTRACTS - GRANT-FUNDED PROCUREMENTS - GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE REVIEW - SIGNIFICANT FEDERAL FUNDS REQUIREMENT DIGEST: 1. GAO GENERALLY WILL REVIEW GRANT COMPLAINTS UNLESS THE FEDERAL FUNDS IN THE PROJECT AS A WHOLE ARE INSIGNIFICANT. CONTRACTS - GRANT-FUNDED PROCUREMENTS - COURT ACTION - COMPLAINT, ETC. DISMISSED 2. FEDERAL GRANT COMPLAINT IS DISMISSED WHEN THE ISSUE IN THE COMPLAINT IS PENDING BEFORE A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION UNLESS THE COURT EXPRESSES AND INTEREST IN OBTAINING THE VIEWS OF GAO. CRIMINAL LAW VIOLATIONS - JURISDICTION - GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE V. ATTORNEY GENERAL 3. ASSERTIONS WHICH ARE OF A CRIMINAL NATURE SHOULD BE REFERRED BY PROTESTER TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.

THE HONORABLE LAWTON CHILES UNITED STATES SENATOR FEDERAL BUILDING LAKELAND, FLORIDA 33801

DEAR SENATOR CHILES:

WE REFER TO YOUR CORRESPONDENCE DATED SEPTEMBER 4 AND OCTOBER 19, 1984, REQUESTING OUR VIEWS ON THE COMPLAINT OF W. R. PRITCHETT, PRESIDENT OF AMERICAN CONVEYOR CORPORATION (ACC). MR. PRITCHETT ALLEGES THAT ACC WAS THE APPARENT LOW BIDDER UNDER A PROCUREMENT FOR CONSTRUCTION OF A VEGETABLE PACKINGHOUSE IN GUANICA, PUERTO RICO. ACCORDING TO MR. PRITCHETT, THE AWARD WAS MADE AT A HIGHER PRICE TO INTERNATIONAL CONSULTANTS, A FIRM FROM ISRAEL. MR. PRITCHETT ALLEGES HE HAS BEEN FRAUDULENTLY DEPRIVED OF THIS CONTRACT AND FURTHER ALLEGES THAT A UNITED STATES AGENCY IS FURNISHING THE $1.5 MILLION FUNDING FOR THIS PROJECT. ACC HAS FILED A CIVIL SUIT AGAINST THIS AWARD IN COURT IN PUERTO RICO, BUT STATES THIS IS A COSTLY PROCEDURE WHICH HAS A "SLIGHT" CHANCE OF SUCCESS. ACC REQUESTS YOUR ASSISTANCE.

IN RESPONSE TO YOUR FIRST LETTER, WHICH ENCLOSED A LETTER FROM ACC ALLEGING THIS PROCUREMENT WAS FUNDED WITH FEDERAL MONEY, WE ATTEMPTED TO IDENTIFY THE AGENCY INVOLVED FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSIDERING ACC'S COMPLAINT UNDER OUR GRANT COMPLAINT PROCEDURES. WE GENERALLY WILL CONSIDER COMPLAINTS AGAINST GRANTEE AWARDS UNLESS FEDERAL FUNDS IN THE PROJECT AS A WHOLE ARE INSIGNIFICANT. MID-STATE AG SERVICE, INC., B-213200, MAR. 12, 1984, 84-1 CPD PARA. 283. ON SEPTEMBER 20, 1984, WE INFORMALLY REQUESTED THIS INFORMATION FORM ACC. HOWEVER, NEITHER MR. PRITCHETT NOR ACC'S ATTORNEY WAS ABLE TO IDENTIFY THE FEDERAL AGENCY AND TO DATE HAVE NOT SUPPLIED THIS INFORMATION. WE ALSO CONTACTED THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (AGRICULTURE) TO DETERMINE IF THE GRANT WAS ISSUED BY THAT DEPARTMENT SINCE THE PROCUREMENT APPEARED TO CONCERN AN AGRICULTURE MATTER. AGRICULTURE HAS BEEN UNABLE TO DETERMINE THAT THIS PROJECT WAS FUNDED BY IT. ON OCTOBER 15, 1984, WE ADVISED MR. HARRISON OF YOUR STAFF OF OUR EFFORTS.

IN ANY EVENT, ACC STATES THAT IT HAS FILED SUIT IN COURT SEEKING TO REVERSE THE AWARD DECISION. WE NOTE THAT THIS OFFICE WILL DISMISS A FEDERAL GRANT COMPLAINT WHEN THE ISSUE IN THE COMPLAINT IS PENDING BEFORE A COURT OF COMPETENT JURISDICTION UNLESS THE COURT EXPRESSES AN INTEREST IN OBTAINING THE VIEWS OF GAO. BLACK CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION, B-213823, APR. 6, 1984, 84-1 CPD PARA. 387.

FINALLY, TO THE EXTENT ACC ALLEGES THAT THE AWARD INVOLVES CRIMINAL MISCONDUCT BY FEDERAL OFFICIALS, THESE ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF A CRIMINAL NATURE ARE PROPERLY FOR REFERRAL BY THE COMPLAINANT TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. SEE RELIABILITY SCIENCES, INCORPORATED, B-212852, MAY 2, 1984, 84-1 CPD PARA. 493.

THE ENCLOSURE TO YOUR CORRESPONDENCE IS RETURNED AS REQUESTED.